Erna Solberg og Lise Lyngsnes Randeberg
Priminister of Norway Erna Solberg, here with President of Tekna, Lise Lyngsnes Randeberg

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- Employers have to assume more responsibility for employees who are working from home

Nov. 16 2020

- We see that this situation will be longlasting, maybe even permanent. At the same time, the physical and mental toll [of working remotely] is starting to show up, says deputy head of Akademikerne and Tekna president Lise Lyngsnes Randeberg during a meeting with the government’s task force on digitalization.

Home office, higher-/continuing education and students’ digital reality were  Akademikernes’ most important issues when meeting with Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Friday afternoon.

- The home office existence has taken a toll on the individual worker. Many highly educated people appreciate the flexibility of working remotely, but need far better accommodations to do so, said deputy head and Tekna president Randeberg during the meeting.

The mental and physical consequences for the individual are becoming more obvious: Many people miss being together with their colleagues in a work-based community. And for many people, work and leisure no longer have clear boundaries. The PC screen and chair in their home offices are also causing more physical issues.

- So it’s important that employers start taking responsibility and looking after individual employees. It’s important and correct that the Labor Department is works hard to establish updated regulations in dialogue with all parties involved. There are several issues that must be thoroughly explored, among others employee follow-up, health and safety measures as well as insurance coverage, said Randeberg.

Individual and adapted regulations

Akademikerne primarily want these problems to be solved through keeping the individual in mind.

- We need flexible and individually adapted regulations where companies’ union representatives are involved. In addition, we must ensure that management provides good communication and follow-up when making a distinction between work and leisure, says Randeberg.

Everyone needs to raise their skills 

Akademikerne are pleased that the government is investing in skills development in next year’s national budget.  

- Everyone needs to ‘top up’ their areas of competency over the course of their career, including employees who are highly educated. One of the areas we know that needs a giant competency ‘lift’ is IT security. Given our increasing digital vulnerability and risk level for cyberattacks, we need to do something about this now, said Randeberg.

She expressed disappointment that the government’s White Paper on national security presented last week doesn’t provide a better overview of the continuing education programs to be offered in the field of digital security.

- Digitalization increases not only the need IT competency but also competency in other areas. The broad and long-term investment in skills development that affects all areas of working life must be strengthened, said Randeberg.

Students’ digital reality

Akademikerne are concerned about how students are handling the Corona crisis. Both students and instructors report a wide variety of experiences about the move from in-person to online instruction.  

- Even if you’re highly competent at what you do, you can feel truly helpless as an instructor. You’re used to engaging in dialogue with your students in the auditorium, and suddenly you find yourself in a situation with zero feedback when you’re looking at a row of black screens because none of your students has their cameras turned on, said Randeberg.

She spoke out to say that instructors must get the chance to increase their competency level in digital teaching tools and how these tools can be used to plan teaching in more appropriate ways.

- This spring has also shown that the digital infrastructure at colleges and universities must be sufficiently developed to become more robust. It’s also important to have enough technical help, said Randeberg.

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